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mrteacherguy mrteacherguy is offline
 
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Regrets from first year
Old 08-26-2018, 05:01 PM
 
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For my first year of teaching, I was offered a job at the end of a phone interview, for a job out of state (where I had little to no support system). I was not mature enough / ready to have my own class, something I only realized afterward. My student teaching had been an amazing experience, and I was naive enough to think that my own classroom would run that well.


Suffice it to say, I made some mistakes and one or two bad judgement calls, and my probational contract was not renewed. Overall it was not a good year for me career-wise or in my personal life. It took me five years doing other jobs before I received another offer in my home state (for whatever reason, I was suddenly a hot commodity for what is now my school district). I've just started my sixth year with my school, I've gone on to earn my master's degree, and was selected to be my team lead last year. While I still feel like a newbie a fair bit of the time, I know I'm on the right track.


However, I can't shake my regrets about how that original first year went. There were definitely things my school/district could have done to better support a fresh-out-of-college rookie, but most of the fault lies with me. I look back at how things went, and while there were a handful of rough kids that would give a lot of teachers a difficult time, all of the students I had deserved a better teacher than the one they got. I had a great team and content area department, and while we got along well, they deserved a better teammate.


I realize that I'm not the same person, nor the same teacher that I was then and that I've grown a lot in the last ten years (in part thanks to my first year experiences). But for some reason I can't shake these regrets, and sometimes/often find myself wishing that I could go back and do things differently.


Anyone else have a really bad year early in their career? How did you deal with it or move on from it?


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Old 08-26-2018, 05:16 PM
 
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I think it may be helpful to remember that your reflections on that year are done through the lens of your years of experience now. It's normal to see what you could have done better. You're human and it's ok to have had a bad year - what's important is that you've learned and grown from it!
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Old 08-26-2018, 05:27 PM
 
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"I did the best I could with what I knew and the resources I had." -Me when I think badly about my bad experiences in my first year.
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Old 08-26-2018, 06:27 PM
 
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I think many (if not most) of us share those feelings about our first year(s) of teaching.
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:02 PM
 
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Oh, I think it's totally normal to look back on that first year and think you could have done a better job or think about the mistakes you made and have regrets! Gosh, I made so many mistakes when I first started. I wanted to quit many times. I cried several times in the car on the way to school, and even more times on the way home. But, I stuck with it and have learned a lot. I still make mistakes, though. No teacher is perfect!

Focus on the future and celebrate all the things you are doing better now. Make sure your inner voice is treating you the way that you would a friend.


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Old 08-26-2018, 07:12 PM
 
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Your first year could have been my first year except for a couple of small details.

I tell myself I did the best I could, as Catsby said, and also . . . It was one year. Unless I was downright abusive (which I wasn't!), one year won't permanently damage anyone.
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:13 PM
 
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When you know better, you do better. Making mistakes is how we learn. Forgive yourself.
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:39 PM
 
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I made so many mistakes my first year. Then I moved on. I hope every year gets better for you.
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First year
Old 08-26-2018, 08:02 PM
 
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We were just talking about this in a staff meeting the other week. Someone asked if anyone in the room was able to look back on their first year without cringing. No one could
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:34 PM
 
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Going back and wishing you could do things differently? That is what every August is for! It's a chance to be bold and try something new. Do better than the year before. I look at EVERY year like that. Not with regret really, but knowing that there are many things I want to do differently and improve on.


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Old 08-26-2018, 11:06 PM
 
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Teenytiny, I LOVE your advice "Make sure your inner voice is treating you the way that you would a friend."



All to often as teachers (and also as just human beings) this is lost upon us!!
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:43 AM
 
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You already got so much good advice here.

I think we all begin our careers from different places of understanding. We do the best we can. What is important is that we continue to try to do better with what we know now. I too began my career in a state where I knew no one. It is hard, but I got many lessons from that experience that made me a better person. It sounds like you have learned too.

You've got to trust that those kids from your first year are resilient. If you are inclined, say a prayer that God gives them what you couldn't (or what you wish you had given them). Put your energy there and move forward.
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:40 AM
 
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I know I wasn't the best either in my first year, but I seemed to be the type to put it behind me more and move forward. Sure, I think about some things from the first year, but I don't dwell on it much, but I'm in a slightly different "boat". I never returned to that type of teaching after that. I guess it wasn't for me and I sure would never return to it now. That specific teaching field has changed over the years.

You've thought about that first year a LOT. Don't stay in the past. Keep moving forward and find fresh ways to motive and inspire yourself!
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:10 AM
 
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I don't have a specific year, but there are definitely students that kind of haunt me. The ones that I know I should have stretched myself more to help. I am a much better teacher now than I was when I had most of those, so I have to give myself some grace and try to do a better job with the ones who are in front of me now. It helps to remember that I am a teacher, but I am also a life long learner. I am learning new things and also from my past mistakes.
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:51 AM
 
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My first year 18 years ago was a little bit of a struggle and ended in a non-renewal as well. I learned that there were certain areas with my subject that I shined at, and others that I was weaker at. I moved on to focus on teaching band rather than general music because I knew I was a lot stronger in that area.

I did not always get the right support and guidance either but I also was too afraid to seek it out fearing that I would be looked at as not being able to do the job.

I think since you have since moved on and been successful, the best thing to do now is to let it go. You by now have learned what you could from the experience and used it to get back out there and teach again.

I think one problem that we face as teachers is that everyone expects us to be perfect right away. My first year, I always felt like anytime I made a mistake, I was in trouble. A new teacher should not have to feel that way and those in charge should be understanding enough to know that someone right out of college is not going to know everything right away and try to help them when they can.
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:08 PM
 
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“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

― Maya Angelou
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:59 PM
 
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After student teaching, we tend to believe we are ready for our own classrooms and that we know just what to do. I think at that point we don't know how much we don't really know. After we gain experience and we grow, we realize how little we knew at the beginning. If that makes sense.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:20 PM
 
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It's not just your first year, I've had other years where I've looked back and thought, "Holy cow, I shouldn't be teaching" or "Holy cow, I have failed those kids." We are only human. Some years are better than others. Be kind to yourself and learn from your mistakes, and your successes.
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